Footage Shows Egyptian Police Dragging Warraq Islanders From Their Homes As Development Plans Move Forward – Middle East Monitor

Egyptian police arrested 23 protesters as they demonstrated against the destruction of their homes on Al-Warraq Island in Cairo.

In videos online, residents could be seen throwing rocks at riot police and the air was filled with tear gas.

The island has been at the center of Egyptian government plans to designate poor neighborhoods, demolish them and turn them into glitzy residential areas and tourist hubs.

Footage shared online shows authorities entering people’s homes and dragging residents away in forced evictions.

Social media commentators say police have stopped the only ferry carrying residents to and from the island.

Several social media users compared the events unfolding on Al-Warraq Island to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, where deportations are commonplace.

In late July, Egyptian state media reported that the State Information Service had published the 17.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($880 million) development plans for Al-Warraq Island, which will be renamed Horus.

READ: Reports: Five have died in Egyptian detention centers in two weeks since July

The plans included eight residential areas, a viewing platform on the Nile, two harbors and a park.

The Egyptian Ministry of Housing announced that it had recovered 71% of the island and that it now belonged to the state that evicted the “illegal squatters”.

Displacement of the island began in 2017, when police raided residents’ homes on the pretext that they were built on state-owned land.

Egyptian state media reported that an Emirati company intended to develop the island after signing a contract with the Egyptian government in 2013.

Residents protested, saying they had legal proof that they owned their homes and that their families had lived there for hundreds of years.

People who offered compensation said it was well below market value.

For years, Egyptian authorities have demolished residential neighborhoods in Cairo and across Egypt on the pretext that they were acquired illegally.

In February, they evacuated residents of Al-Jayara, Hosh Al-Ghajar, Al-Sukar and Al-Lemon neighborhoods in Old Cairo to build a tourist, cultural and entertainment project.

A month later, authorities demolished Nasr City’s sixth and seventh wards to build new residential towers.

In June, the news that the famous Nile barges would be broken up and towed away made international headlines, with the distraught owners making online video calls to save the boats.

Authorities seized the boats claiming they were unlicensed dwellings and offered no compensation to the owners.

READ: Owners distraught as historic Nile barges are scrapped

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